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Workshops on the usability of geographic information

2013 (date to be confirmed), at the University of Glasgow, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences.

Supported by Ordnance Survey and the ICA Commission on Use and User Issues.

The need

Usability of geographic information is a key concern for producers and users alike.

However, in some ways this is more complex to evaluate than the usability of physical devices, application interfaces and web sites which have been the focus for established usability evaluation methodologies.

A reason to be particularly interested in this is that when using geographical applications - from SatNavs to geographic information systems (GIS) – few users notice and understand the differentiation between information and the software that uses it. The user experience is based on the integration of information and software, requiring special attention by researchers, producers and developers.

Geographic information can range from highly detailed content with much attribution, used in diverse professional contexts (for example, urban design, emergency response) through to maps used, for example, for outdoor leisure activities.

The nature of the information products together with diversity of applications and user experience, present interesting challenges to understanding product usability.

The workshops

The workshops aim to bring together people engaged in information usability from across different disciplines, including Human Factors, HCI, Computer Science, Geographic Information Science - to share perspectives on the challenges and priorities for investigating usability of data or information, in particular geographic information.

A new, interdisciplinary community from academia and industry is developing with a common drive to design and evaluate for geographic information usability.

More from research

Understanding how people do and could use geographic information effectively is central to how Ordnance Survey can deliver content to meet users’ needs. With the focus on how people work and interact with the real-world and geographic information, this area of research draws on many aspects of User Centred Design.

Our research focuses on finding solutions to technical challenges and we work collaboratively with universities and other institutions. Find out how you can be involved too.

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